311. Memorandum of Conversation1


  • President Pompidou
  • Foreign Minister Michel Jobert
  • Finance Minister Giscard d’Estaing
  • President Nixon
  • Secretary of State William P. Rogers
  • Secretary of Treasury George Shultz
  • Dr. Henry A. Kissinger, Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs

President Nixon: President Pompidou and I feel that it would be useful to have a brief report from the Foreign Ministers and the Finance Ministers on their sessions. The President and I have discussed some of these same problems but it would be useful to have some account of these meetings.

Secretary Rogers: The newer Foreign Minister speaks first.

Foreign Minister Jobert: I want to thank Secretary Rogers for giving me the floor first to speak about our three sessions, even though he outranks me in both seniority and competence. It may sound unoriginal but I say it very sincerely; our meetings were very interesting.

On a number of points we spelled out traditional positions as well as positions we will take in coming months. Our choice of subjects was not very original, but then the world is what it is. We spoke of the Middle East within the context of the forthcoming Security Council meeting and we described what would be an ideal, practical settlement in that part of the world. I think I understand U.S. policies and Secretary Rogers sees why we act as we do, what trends we follow, what aims we pursue. The Secretary and I concur that the time has now come to get the two parties to understand they must begin a direct, but equal dialogue to find conditions for an agreement. I told him this demonstration must be done not in a cruel but in a friendly manner. Do you wish to add anything, Mr. Secretary?

Secretary Rogers: Mr. President has described fully through his words. We agree that one reason the parties do not even wish to talk about the problem is that the Egyptians think somebody else can solve the problem for them: the permanent members of the Security Council, the Security Council itself, the U.S. or some other. If we get to the point and they realize that their own actions can lead the way, then it is possible to pave the way for an interim settlement.

Foreign Minister Jobert: We talked at great length about Southeast Asia and the prospects for settlement. We attempted to describe the conditions that could prevail there in coming months. I drew Secretary Rogers’ attention particularly to Cambodia. General Haig made his contribution to our meeting on the basis of his own experience in Cambodia. I reminded Mr. Rogers that we want Cambodia to be neutral and independent. It would be useful to see whether countries like China, for instance, have the same requirement. We looked into what would be the way to set up a stable, if transitional, government in Phnom Penh and we explored the prospects of Prince Sihanouk, not to name him. We asked ourselves about the peaceful intentions of the North Viet [Page 951] namese and the actuality of North Vietnamese troop movements or of supplies and personnel. We will study this further. We talked of Japan and how the world community can help these countries who have succeeded from such a long war to recover. We talked about the recent Paris talks which will be resumed next week, of course.

Secretary Rogers: On Egypt we agreed that it is vital that the Alliance not be weakened. I explained the domestic problems you face, Mr. President, and the fight you wage. We talked of the forthcoming Alliance meeting and we see eye to eye. We talked about the CSCE and how long it might go on. We felt that MBFR should not be put off beyond October 31 and that we must not be misled by Soviet insistence that CSCE end before MBFR begins. Minister Jobert gave us extensive and useful presentations of his views on Europe. We talked about Latin America, in particular our interests in Mexico and Brazil. On the question of Europe and a conflict between France and the U.S. regarding our policy in Latin America, the answer was that there is none. Our talks were very full and very satisfactory.

President Pompidou: You worked very hard. In the meantime, President Nixon and I were matching Gaullisms but there was neither victor or vanquished.

President Nixon: Shall we listen to the Finance Ministers?

President Pompidou: If Secretary Shultz will agree to a date for convertibility then Giscard will agree to raise the price of gold.

Secretary Shultz: I will be brief. First the points of convergence. There was a consensus that convertibility is a rough and ready means of bringing discipline especially to deficit countries and that it is desirable to make discipline symmetrical, bringing it to surplus countries also where convertibility would not apply. The U.S. method to attain this through objective indicators is not accepted, but we agree on the objectives.

The second point of divergence is that roles must apply evenly to all countries. This implies a reduced role for reserve currency; there were different views on the elasticity of those holding the currencies. Reference was made to consolidating surplus balances. I believe there is also general agreement on creating SDRs or some such instrument as a worldwide currency to act as “numeraire” for the whole world. It is felt that the interim arrangements are reasonably satisfactory. Of course, the question is what is a transitional period? It is good to have a chance to observe them while talking about going towards a more fixed system.

On many questions there was no convergence. These included sharing exchange risks—the interchange or relationship with SDRs. But if a broad outline can be settled, then we can solve the technical problems.

[Page 952]

On other points, such as the emphasis placed upon the flexibility of exchange rates, we narrowed our differences by focusing on the exchange rate relationships between the European Community, the U.S. and Japan as differentiated from all other associated countries. We talked about the scheduling for the new system. Our consensus is that it will not be before Nairobi, and that it will be a good idea to have the Ministers meet before that. We advocate a “no communiqué” approach because on the basis of my own experience much time that could otherwise be devoted to substance is usually devoted to drafting a communiqué. We can accomplish more more without a communiqué.

We also talked about the commercial area, both European Community enlargement and compensations for it. We did not come to an agreement but we talked about it. We also talked about forthcoming multilateral negotiations and I should like to point out two characteristic features of such talks. First I quickly come to prickly matters of detail; then after, the clear overriding gains from trade. It remains to translate these, the latter, into a political will to settle the details on the prickly issue. I am pleased that Giscard d’Estaing will attend the opening of the Tokyo meeting. If he brings the same skill and expertise there that he brings to commercial matters, it bodes well. Finally, this was one in a series of similar or larger meetings with Giscard d’Estaing. I always find him an interesting, stimulating and most pleasant person to be associated with.

Finance Minister d’Estaing: I have almost nothing to add because of the precision and high quality of Secretary Shultz’ statement. Since President Pompidou said last night that he was going to switch Finance Minister, I would like to say that Secretary Shultz spoke for both of us.

Let me give a few political indications. We agreed that we must work towards a world monetary order in sub-term measures. Convertibility is accepted by our U.S. partners in that new system. The SDR’s must be a value that is sought after. Gold was mentioned, but in a system based mainly upon the laws of the markets it is unlikely that gold would remain at a level too far divorced from reality.

As to timing, we have no interest in pushing things. We see the end of 1973 or early 1974 as the soonest moment. On trade, we agree with our partners on reciprocity of concessions and that the CAP will not be questioned again. We note the desires of the U.S. to study all non-tariff barriers. This is all I have to add to the very exact report of my friend and colleague, Mr. Shultz.

President Nixon: One significant thought occurs to me after these brief but important reports. It is that they tell us something about our two countries that we should always keep in mind. We both are not parochial. We look to the world. Consider the range of questions studied [Page 953] by the President and me, the Foreign Ministers and the Finance Ministers. We have surveyed the world geographically and economically.

The President and I talked about Southeast Asia, Japan and its links to Europe, the Middle East and Europe, East-West relations, SALT, MBFR, as well as the world monetary and trade system. You see the wide range of interest in subjects that go far beyond our own two countries. Although at times we may disagree on techniques, there is no disagreement about our interests which are very close.

I should like to conclude on a personal note and an observation directed at the U.S. side.

I look forward to returning to Paris in the fall when we can continue our dialogue. I want to be sure all in the U.S. Government understand my position on Franco-U.S. relations. I do not speak for those who are in this room here with me, because they share my view. The President said that French and frank are the same. I want to speak very frankly too. U.S. policies vis-à-vis France before 1969 were wrong and disastrous. There was a tendency to blame General de Gaulle’s stubbornness for the breakdown in Franco-U.S. relations, but those responsible for these policies in the U.S. must take a large share of that responsibility. When I first came to Paris in 1969 and had a long talk with de Gaulle, I started then to work towards an objective and I have made progress towards it in the last four years and will make more progress in the next four years. My aim is to return to a strong, friendly basis for our relations such as we enjoyed in the past. I don’t mean total agreement but I do mean trust and cooperation. I want to be sure that all U.S. Government officials reflect that spirit in their dealings with their French counterparts, because the legacy of the early 1960s has left a residue at the lower level. Needless to say, that residue is in the press because every time we have a meeting with our French friends, the press say there will be a confrontation and every time we disappoint the press. I do not suggest total agreement, which could never be the case between two free countries.

It is customary to say after meetings such as this that a new era has begun. In my mind it began the day I was first inaugurated and it will continue now because my goal in foreign policy for the eight years which I hope to be in office is to leave French and U.S. policy on the basis which we enjoyed until that difficult period in the 1960’s that pulled us apart. A close personal relationship the President and I enjoy will help achieve that.

President Pompidou: May I add a few words to what is for us a very moving statement, Mr. President. The expectations with which we came to these meetings have been fulfilled. First we did not try to decide anything. We exchanged details on a number of bilateral matters. I did not speak for Europe although I did not forget Europe. What Dr. [Page 954] Kissinger would call the regional European reality. I speak not on behalf of others, nor for the people of France—correction, I speak for France.

In the second place, thanks to the type of relations you mentioned and to the policies you pursued we were able to take up the more serious issues and explore their substance as never before in the past. We have explored them very deeply and have looked into the future.

May I say to Secretary Shultz that indeed we do not need a communiqué. We share our inner thoughts, we did not agree on all the methods, but we do agree on our general interests and that France and the U.S. are guided not only by a sentimental tradition but by a community of deep interests. I am convinced that this conference has not given birth to anything, but it bears a seed for the future, and conception is more fun than delivering.

I want to thank you Mr. President for the friendship and the frankness you have displayed and which I have tried to reciprocate. These meetings have been useful for our two countries and for the world, for the relations between the European Community and the U.S. and to promote the cause of détente and peace where we are so active and violent. I look forward to receiving you in Paris with all the honors and tributes that are yours by right.

[The meeting ended at 12:45 p.m.]

  1. Summary: Nixon, Pompidou, and U.S. and French officials reviewed their May 31 to June 1 talks.

    Source: National Archives, Nixon Presidential Materials, White House Special Files, Staff Member & Office Files, President’s Office Files, Memoranda for the President, Box 91, Beginning May 27 (1973). Top Secret; Sensitive. All brackets are in the original. The meeting took place in Kjarvalsstadir. For the May 31 discussions among Pompidou, Nixon, and Kissinger, see Documents 20 and 21; see also Document 41 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, 1973–1976. A memorandum of conversation recording a meeting among Pompidou, Nixon, and Kissinger on June 1 from 10:15 until 11:45 a.m. is in Library of Congress, Manuscript Division, Kissinger Papers, Box TS 26, France Meetings, 1973, May–June (Reykjavik, Iceland). For the May 31 discussion between Giscard and Shultz, see Document 40 in Foreign Relations, 1969–1976, vol. XXXI, Foreign Economic Policy, 1973–1976. Memoranda of conversation recording the May 31 and June 1 talks between Jobert and Rogers are in Washington National Records Center, OSD Files: FRC 330–78–0001, France 337 31 May 73 and ibid., 1 June 73.